Chicago’s typical St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were drastically toned down this year like in some other cities across the country, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave the green light to dye the Chicago River, a tradition that dates back to 1962.
It was one of the few rituals, lauding the patron saint of Ireland known for spreading Christianity in the fifth century, that was able to survive COVID-19 restrictions.
For the second straight year, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities nationwide canceled parades, tempering the revelry and ringing of cash registers at bars and restaurants, the latest blow to an economy that normally would be seeing a late-winter boost. With social-distancing, mask-wearing mandates and capacity limits in place, businesses are still struggling to survive.
Even Ireland put the kibosh on all St. Patrick’s Day parades throughout the country.
New York City, which boasts of the “oldest and largest in the world” with a parade on the streets every March 17 since 1762 — or as it likes to point out, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed — is not letting a pandemic stop it. On Wednesday, the city’s 260th parade, like last year, will be largely ceremonial with a small live marching event at a still unscheduled time to honor first responders and essential workers, according to the parade website.
A virtual parade created as a composite of past parade marching groups will be shown in the morning with a streaming hourlong show on Facebook afterward.
Other cities took creative routes. Hilton Head, South Carolina, moved its march to a boat parade. St. Paul, Minnesota, is having a drive-thru “Mask-arade” that will take about a minute to see at a former Sears parking lot. Dublin, California, is holding the Celtic Rock Drive-In Concert at the Hacienda Crossings shopping center Wednesday.
In Austin, Texas, where mask mandates have been dropped, and bars and restaurants are allowed to serve at full capacity, the festivities have moved online. A music event will feature a host of Irish storytellers, singers and dancers, including the Clickety Cloggers. But the rest of the city is gearing up for a lively celebration.
Some cities such as Erin, Wisconsin, population 3,800, are shrugging off the pandemic fears — though masks are still required. The city, about 45 minutes west of Milwaukee, will see a morning parade, complete with green John Deere tractors, floats and a king and queen, on an extended parade route where people can watch from their cars.
“Our goal is to host the parade and do so safely,” organizers said on the parade website.